We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Parasocial Interaction?

By Marlene Garcia
Updated Feb 02, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The first studies of parasocial interaction began in 1956, when sociologists looked at how people viewed news personalities. They found relationships with news anchors mirrored relationships in real life. Viewers considered their favorite news anchor as a friend whose opinion was credible. This study found a correlation between the time study participants spent watching television and the degree of parasocial interaction.

Later experiments looked at soap operas and how relationships develop through frequent viewing. These studies found viewers felt genuine concern about what happened to stars on these shows. The viewers developed an intimacy with the characters, and events portrayed on television impacted their lives. Parasocial interaction explains why people cry while watching a television wedding or feel sad if their favorite character suffers emotional pain.

Some researchers discovered that parasocial interaction meets unmet needs in real life. The more lonely or isolated a person feels, the greater the degree of rapport with television characters or news anchors. People with few interpersonal relationships felt stronger bonds with fictional characters, and women were affected more than men.

This theory also applies to people who read historical romance novels, primarily read by women. A study of these novels and parasocial interaction discovered some women relate to the heroines in the novels and consider them friends. Readers form a mental image of the character from descriptive passages in the books and might identify with the character’s interpersonal struggle to find love. Research found some women used these novels as an escape from loneliness in their lives.

The degree of parasocial interaction depends on several factors. Characters that exhibit attitudes similar to those of the viewer elicit a connected response. Attractiveness also plays a role in how people react to television personalities, along with perceived friendliness. In radio personalities, the quality of the voice might suggest parasocial interaction. Some viewers and listeners interviewed for research said they wanted to meet or talk to the person they considered a friend and missed them when they were absent from the show.

More recently, studies have been conducted on the influence of interactive blogs on the Internet and the effect on parasocial interaction. One study looked at political candidates who provided the ability to interact via the Web. It found a perceived intimacy developed in some people who read or participated in blogs. Some people rated these relationships as important as relationships in real life.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.